Denmark’s capital city is the most exuberant in Scandinavia. Pedestrians and cyclists rule, shopping is a pleasure, cultural sights abound, and by night the city buzzes.
Copenhagen (København) is the “city of green spires”. Copper plates etched green by salt air, clad the spires of castles and churches in the Old City, and tower over the medieval street network and newer houses. The Old Town you visit today would have looked different but for two devastating fires and a terrible bombardment.
Blazes in 1728 and 1795 licked and leaped along the straw-roofed houses and turned most of the half-timbered medieval town to ashes. Only a few solidly built structures survived – among them Round Tower (Rundetårn).
When Admiral Lord Nelson and the British fleet bombarded Copenhagen in 1801 the toll was also heavy. Six years later, Wellington besieged the city, destroying 300 houses and capturing the Danish fleet.
Copenhagen is the liveliest – and many claim the most fetching – of the Scandinavian capitals, with things to see and do all the time. With Europe’s longest pedestrian mall, this was the first capital to offer the pleasures of ambling through a network of streets free of motor vehicles and exhaust fumes.
A good way to get a first feel of Copenhagen is from the water. Take one of the 60-minute canal boat trips from Kongens Nytorv/Nyhavn or Gammel Strand. If you’re the adventurous type you could explore the waterways in a kayak for two hours, starting in Strandgade in Christianshavn. A guide paddles ahead of you.
The City of Copenhagen provides 2,500 free bicycles to use within its City Bike zone (bracketed by the three artificial lakes to the west and Stadsgraven moat to the east). All you have top do is deposit a 20DKK coin (about UD$4) in one of its 110 City Bike parking places dotted about the city center. The 20SKK is refunded when the cycle is returned. (March to end November only).
Copenhagen – The Capital City of Green Spires, written by Tor Kjolberg
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